–Billy's final words, The Battle of Starcourt
William ''Billy'' Hargrove, portrayed by Dacre Montgomery, is a major character of Stranger Things. He served as the tertiary antagonist of the second season and the central antagonist of the third season.
He was the older step-brother of Max Mayfield and was shown to echo the abuse from his father in his behaviour toward her and her friends, as well as lashing out at other characters.
He was eventually possessed by The Mind Flayer, which used his body to kidnap various residents of Hawkins in order to build The Spider Monster. His conscience was unearthed by Eleven, and he sacrifices himself to save her where he apologized to his stepsister for all of his misdeeds before dying.
Billy is the son of Neil Hargrove and an unnamed mother in California. His father was physically abusive to him and his mother. Billy had a passion for surfing as a kid, and his mother was very supportive of him. He has fond memories of her standing on the beach watching him surf. Billy's mother abandoned him sometime later when he was about ten years old, due to Neil's behavior. Neil eventually married Susan Mayfield, mother of Max Mayfield, who was introduced to Billy as his "new sister" which he did not like. Neil's abuse towards Billy turned him into a childhood bully, and he is seen in his memories beating up other kids.
Billy arrived at Hawkins High School in his blue Camaro with his stepsister Max. As Max skateboarded towards Hawkins Middle School, Billy got out of his car and was noticed by several students including Steve Harrington and Nancy Wheeler as well as three other girls who admired his figure.
On October 31st, Billy waited to pick up Max from school. When she arrived, he chastised her for being late and said next time it happened she would have to skateboard home. On the way home, Billy noted that Max seemed to enjoy their new town despite her denial of this. Billy then asked her whose fault it was that they had to move to Hawkins; Max muttered that it was his. Billy was enraged by this comment and began speeding and yelling. Billy then threatened to run over Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair as they were cycling home. Max grabbed the steering wheel and swerved to the other lane to avoid collision with the boys.
That night, Billy attended Tina's Halloween party and impressed many Hawkins teenagers by winning a drinking contest; a contest that Steve Harrington, a very popular student at their school, had up until then claimed the title of. Billy quickly gained Tommy H. as a friend and lackey. Tommy H. then introduced Billy to Steve Harrington. Although the introduction was brief, it ignited a rivalry between Billy and Steve.
Billy joined the school basketball team and played against Steve, demonstrating skill and strength over him. Billy's team won easily against Steve's team. That day, Billy was waiting with a date at his car for Max to come. However, Billy got annoyed waiting for Max and left with his date, being angered further when his date called Max his sister. The next day when Billy next played Steve in basketball, he and Tommy wound him up about his failing relationship with Nancy while in the showers. Billy also made Steve unnerved by giving him questionable advice about girls in general and that "there are always other bitches".
After school, when Billy was waiting to pick Max up outside the middle school, he witnessed an argument between Max and Lucas Sinclair, which left Max visibly upset and angry. Billy questioned Max if she knew him, and Max denied knowing Lucas, saying he was someone from her class. When Max got into his car, Billy asked Max why Lucas was talking to her where Max lied that they were only talking about a class assignment. When Billy further questioned Max if Lucas had caused her any trouble as he noticed how upset she was, Max wondered why Billy was starting to care about her feelings, causing Billy to reveal that now they are family, he has to look after her now, something he hates having to do. When Max tried to stand up for herself, Billy tightly gripped her arm and told her that there are people in the world who she should avoid and that Lucas was one of them where he threateningly demanded her to stay away from Lucas. Once Billy released his grip on her arm, Max quietly cried as they drove home. Billy was further angered by Max when he saw her with Lucas a second time at the arcade. Max tried to convince Billy that she wasn't hanging out with Lucas, but she fails to convince him. Billy then reminded Max of what happened when she lied, possibly breaking her skateboard as punishment.
On the next day, Billy was lifting weights and listening to loud music while Max was trying to fix her skateboard.
Max later left with Lucas without Billy knowing. His father and step-mother arrived home later that night as he was preparing to leave on a date. When his father and step-mother found Max gone from the house, his father angrily questioned Billy where his step-sister had gone. Billy replied he didn't really know where she went before stating that he didn't acknowledge Max as his family. Infuriated with Billy for his behavior and for disrespecting his stepmother, his father pushed him against the wall, called him a 'faggot', and hit Billy. He then ordered Billy to cancel his date and find his step-sister. After his father and step-mother left, a few tears escape his eyes, showing the abuse Billy endured at the hands of his father deeply affected him.
Billy first went to the Sinclair house to look for Max. Unable to find her there, he then left for the Wheeler residence. Mike's mother, Karen, having just gotten out of the tub because her husband wasn't answering the door, greets him and Billy flirted with her before getting the directions to the Byers residence, the hangout for the boys. Billy drove to the Byers residence, finding Steve and the rest of the kids there. Billy pushed Steve away and threatened Lucas to stay away from Max, and in response Lucas kicked him in the groin. Before Billy could harm him, Steve intervened. Steve then initiated a fist fight with Billy who had the upper hand initially before Billy recovered and started brutally beating Steve to the ground. Max, having had enough, drugged Billy with the syringe taken from the lab (probably containing sodium thiopental) and made Billy promise to leave her and her friends alone.
In the summer of 1985, Billy began working as a lifeguard at Hawkins Community Pool. Billy, being in very good shape, gathered much attention from women, most notably from Karen Wheeler. Billy also had a particular interest in Karen as well, and while flirting with her, he invited her to join him for "private swimming lessons" in an attempt to seduce her. Karen initially agreed to meet up with him, however on the night of their "date", as she was leaving, Karen sees her husband Ted Wheeler and daughter Holly in his arms sleeping together on the couch, and changed her mind about having an affair and jeopardizing her family's stability. Billy was unaware of this, and while in the car on his way to go meet her, rehearsed his date with her to himself.
While distracted, he suddenly crashed into something, lost control and slid to a stop in front of Brimborn Steel Works. Getting out of the car, he found it covered in a slimy substance. He heard something moving nearby, and called out to it. Suddenly he was grabbed by the foot and dragged into the steel mill, where the Mind Flayer planted a part of itself inside him. He then ran out of the mill and got back into his car, speeding away in a panic. He stopped at a payphone to call 911, but as soon as the phone picked up, he finds himself in the Upside Down, and a group of people emerging from the fog, slowly walking towards him. He was approached by a copy of himself, and asked what it wanted. It told him to "build what you see", referring to the zombie-like mob behind it, then suddenly he returned to the real world, clueless as to what happened.
The next day, Billy arrived at the pool in a drunk-like state, stumbling, sweating, and physically uncomfortable. He sat atop the lifeguard chair with a shirt on, which is later noted by Max as being very unusual for him. He later covered himself completely with a towel. Karen, thinking that Billy must have been troubled about her standing him up the previous night, approached Billy in the locker room, facing the wall, where she apologized to him and explained that she doesn't want to ruin her family. Billy briefly thought about attacking Karen (to possess her like he later does with Heather), but instead warned her to get away from him, showing that Billy possibly had genuine feelings for her and did not want her to get hurt or killed. While sitting in the sun on the lifeguard chair, Billy gets a severe burn on the part of his arm exposed to direct sunlight. He goes into the shower and begins screaming in agony and curls up onto the floor. Heather comes in to check on him after hearing his screams. Billy then attacks and subdues her, takes her to the steel mill and presents her to the Mind Flayer for possession.
Heather began working with Billy to kidnap victims for the Mind Flayer's physical body. They first went after Heather's parents (Tom, who also owns the Hawkins Post, and Janet Holloway) by having dinner with them and feeding them drugged food. They were interrupted by Max and El, who had grown suspicious that Billy had harmed Heather, but after seeing Heather seemingly alive and well, they left the residence. Janet consumed a cookie and passed out. Tom was subsequently knocked out by Heather with a champagne bottle, and the two of them dragged the Holloways to the steel mill for possession.
After further spying on Billy, hearing his strange behavior somewhat matched Will's when he was possessed the previous, the crew (consisting of Max, El, Mike, Will, and Lucas), decided to test and see if Billy was indeed possessed by the Mind Flayer. They lured him into the sauna at the Hawkins Community Pool using a drowning dummy and a walkie-talkie, where El threw him against the wall (shattering part of it) and barricaded the door. Billy furiously pounded on the door and demanded they let him out. After luring Max towards the door by pretending to cry, he then used a piece of the shattered wall to break through the glass window and attempted to stab Max with it, yelling "I'll fucking gut you!". He then broke through the door with superhuman strength and had a brief fight with El and Mike, which ended with her throwing him outside through a brick wall. He then fled back to the steel mill, where Heather tended to his wounds and acknowledged the small army of "flayed" people that they had accrued.
El later visited Billy in the Void again, to "make contact" with him and find out what happened to him. El noted to the group that he was just sitting in his room, doing nothing. El was able to access his memories and was taken to a beach in California, where a young Billy is surfing while his mother watches and cheers him on. He proudly exclaimed "that wave was at least 7 feet!". El walked towards the massive storm raging in the distance, where she witnessed Billy's memories of his whole childhood being abused by Neil and later taking on the traits of his father by bullying others. Inside the eye of the storm was Brimborn Steel Works, the "source". Mike urged her to come back, but when she tried to return, she found herself in the room alone, and not in the real dimension. The Mind Flayer in Billy's body spoke to El about his plan to kill her, her friends, and then everyone. El finally returned to the real world, and told everyone the Mind Flayer's plan to kill them all. At this point, all of the people that were possessed (excluding Billy) were gathering in the basement of the steel mill where the Mind Flayer had been waiting, and morphed together into the Spider Monster, making it bigger and stronger than ever.
After the kids escaped the Mind Flayer, they arrived at Bradley's Big Buy to treat El's wounds and steal weapons such as fireworks before leaving to rescue Dustin at Starcourt Mall after Mike received a transmission from him. Shortly after they left, Billy arrived and found traces of their presence before continuing to hunt them down.
Billy managed to track them to Starcourt and removed the ignition cable from Nancy's car to prevent them from escaping. When they noticed the missing ignition cable as they tried to leave for Murray's Warehouse, Billy, sitting in his car, revved the engine while watching them, forcing them to retreat into the mall. After stealing the cable off the mall's 1986 model year Chrysler LeBaron Turbo, Billy charged towards them but is T-boned by Steve and Robin in a stolen Cadillac. Jonathan, Nancy, Steve, Robin, and Lucas fled in the station wagon while the Mind Flayer chased them. Billy, recovering from the crash, noticed Mike, El, and Max and pursued them as they attempted to flee. Billy cornered them in the utility halls of the mall, knocked Mike and Max out and kidnapped El. The Mind Flayer, who had realized the diversion through its connection to Billy, returned and almost killed El, but was stopped by the group bombarding it with fireworks, distracting it while Jim Hopper and Joyce Byers were attempting to close the gate. El mentioned "7 feet" to Billy, which stopped him, and talked to him about the memory she witnessed when she went into his mind; his last memory of true happiness with his mother. Billy shed a tear, regretting everything he had done, and then sacrificed himself to the Mind Flayer in order to prevent it from killing El, his stepsister, and all their friends. This left just enough time for Joyce to close the gate, resulting in the death of the Spider Monster. After it died, Max ran to Billy, who only had the strength to say "I'm sorry" before dying. Max cried, and mourned his death for months afterwards.
Personality and Traits
Billy initially comes across as a classic 'Bad Boy' type but with more sinister, violent undertones. He portrays himself as charming, irresistible, and the new King of Hawkins High with a 'devil may care' attitude. However due to the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father, he has a violent and unpredictable nature. Much like how Neil Hargrove treats his son, Billy reveals his violence only to those closest to him, especially those he's more likely to win in a fight against. He acts antagonistic to Steve and sees him as a rival to overcome.
His violence toward Lucas could be read as subtle signs of racism. But the first time he comes across Lucas is after witnessing him and Max having some form of argument which left her visibly upset, it's also possible that due to his past experiences with his father's violence toward him and his mother, he assumed Lucas was much like Neil Hargrove. He warns Max to stay away from Lucas, then later attacks Lucas simply for standing next to Max. Ironically, his misguided attempts at protection are violent, cold, unkind, and very much like his father's actions.
He drives a blue Camaro and is a drinking-game pro, immediately becoming keg king in Hawkins. Despite being popular at school, Billy is never shown with having any meaningful connection with another person. Billy struggles with problems at home: namely, his abusive father, who physically abused his mother to the point where she left Billy with Neil, who now reflects that violence onto his son, as well as calling him a 'faggot'. Susan is a silent witness to this abuse, and makes no move to protect Billy, who is - despite his bravado - still a child.
However, in 1985 when Eleven enters his mind to find out the location of the Mind Flayer it is seen that, when younger, he was a friendly and happy child when his mother was around and only became violent after his mother left when she divorced his father, starting to reflect the abuse his father dealt out onto him from a young age. Despite having been abandoned by his mother to endure Neil's abuse, he still deeply loves her and desperately misses her, and the strength of that emotion is enough for him to overcome the Mind Flayer's thrall and eventually save the Party.
Powers and Abilities
Billy gained inhuman abilities after becoming one of the Mind Flayer's Flayed. Though most of these are typical abilities gained from being a flayed, he's shown to possess higher abilities then most other flayed seen in the show
- Hive Mind: As one of the Flayed, Billy is connected to a hive mind where he is able to communicate to and share the pain of other Flayed.
- Enhanced Strength: After being activated by the Mind Flayer, Billy was able to bust out of the sauna room that he was trapped in with pure force. He was also able to temporarily resist Eleven's telekinesis and throw a heavy weighted barbell at her with ease.
- Enhanced Durability: Another ability he had gained after becoming one of the Flayed was that he was able to take hits and blows that a normal human would not be able to. He was able to recover from getting hit in the head with a metal barbell in seconds and was able to escape even after being thrown through a brick wall with considerable force, caused by Eleven.
- Perception: While being controlled by the hive mind, Billy was able to sense Eleven's presence while she was using her mental remote viewing ability. This is something that most other Flayed in the series hasn't shown, suggesting that he may be the only Flayed that possesses this ability.
Neil is Billy’s father. Neil is abusive towards Billy, both physically and verbally threatening him. His father’s abuse is visibly distressing for him, and is likely the source of his violent behavior as he abused him and his mother. After Billy's mother's departure, Neil was free to abuse Billy even more, giving him a violent, abusive nature as well.
Unlike his father, Billy seemed to have a good relationship with his biological mother when he was young. She always supported and encouraged Billy's dreams to be a surfer. Billy loved his mother dearly as he tried to protect her from his father's abuse. However, after his mother finally had enough of the abuse and left, Billy was heartbroken and tried to get his mother to come back, but to no avail. When his father remarried, Max became an easy target for his anger. After being reminded of his mother and her beauty by Eleven, Billy cried, showing deep down he still loved his mother. This memory and love for his mother, made Billy sacrifice himself to the Mind Flayer and apologize to Max for abusing her as he died.
Susan is Billy's stepmother. Billy shows no warm feelings towards Susan, and she is a silent, unresponsive witness to the abuse he suffers at Neil's hands.
Max and Billy are step-siblings, sharing a complicated history and difficult relationship. Billy would often treat Max in a controlling, domineering fashion. Billy also does not like when people refer to Max as his sister, which amplifies his contempt for her. It was later revealed that Billy despises Max because she and her mother Susan moved into his life after his own mother left, and are so far spared the abuse Neil put Billy's own mother through, and Billy himself. After sacrificing himself to save Eleven and eventually Max and the rest of her friends from the Mind Flayer, Billy apologized to Max for abusing her as his stepsister sat by his side as he died.
Shortly after his arrival, Billy started a rivalry with Steve Harrington, surpassing him and claiming his title as “King” of the high school. Their rivalry later turned violent when Billy discovered that Steve was trying to prevent him from seeing Max. When Steve's attempts to lie about Max's whereabouts were undone, Billy stormed into the house to retrieve her. A fight ensued after he rounded on Lucas, and Billy and Steve started to beat each other. Billy started to win, being more violent and practiced, and was only stopped when Max sedated him.
When Billy began to outperform Steve, Tommy gladly became Billy’s lackey. It remains to be seen if Billy cares about Tommy in any capacity.
Billy developed a hatred for Lucas Sinclair for being near his stepsister as Billy thought Lucas was making Max upset (the first time he saw them together they were arguing). Billy ordered Max to stay away from Lucas and Lucas would learn of Billy's abuse towards Max. When confronted by Billy at the Byers House, Billy attacked Lucas for being with Max, but Lucas fought back by kicking him in the groin. It angered Billy, but he was stopped from attacking Lucas even more by Steve Harrington. Lucas was even surprised when Max sedated Billy and threatened him to leave her and her friends alone; Lucas included.
A year later, in 1985, Lucas helped his friends confirm whether Billy was possessed by the Mind Flayer by trapping him in a sauna. When Billy tried to attack Max, Lucas saved her by flinging a rock at him with his sling shot. After Billy was confirmed to be possessed, Lucas wanted to find him and burn the Mind Flayer out of Billy, but was reprimanded by Mike who said they'd also need to stop the Mind Flayer. While trying to escape Starcourt Mall, Lucas and his friends were nearly run over by a possessed Billy until Steve and Robin Buckley managed to save them. Then, as Lucas fought the Mind Flayer with fireworks, Billy felt the Mind Flayer's pain. It is unknown how Lucas felt when Billy sacrificed himself to protect him, Eleven, Max, and the rest of his friends from the Mind Flayer.
Heather was Billy's co-worker at the Hawkins Community Pool. The Mind Flayer used Billy to kidnap her and make her and her family become part of the Flayed.
|Season Two appearances|
|MADMAX||Trick or Treat, Freak||The Pollywog|
|Will the Wise||Dig Dug||The Spy|
|The Mind Flayer||The Gate|
|Season Three appearances|
|Suzie, Do You Copy?||The Mall Rats||The Case of the Missing Lifeguard||The Sauna Test|
|The Flayed||E Pluribus Unum||The Bite||The Battle of Starcourt|
|Sam Mayfield||Susan Hargrove||Neil Hargrove||Billy's Mother|
|Max Mayfield||Billy Hargrove|
Billy to Steve:
- "I've been waiting to meet this "King Steve", everybody's talking so much about!"
- "Am I dreaming or is that you, Harrington?"
Billy to Lucas:
- "You're so dead, Sinclair."
Billy to His Victims:
- "Don't be afraid. It'll all be over soon. Just try to hold still..."
Billy after breaking the sauna window:
- "Let me outta here, you bitch! I'll fucking gut you!"
Billy to Max before his death:
- "I'm sorry."
Behind the scenes
The character draws inspiration from Stephen King's human villains who are often as bad or worse than the supernatural evil. The Duffers encouraged actor Dacre Montgomery to look to Jack Nicholson's work for inspiration for the role, in particular, his portrayal of Jack Torrance in the 1980 film The Shining.
Montgomery's mullet is a wig. 
The character's identity was first revealed to the public via a casting call obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. On October 14, 2016, it was revealed that the role had gone to Australian actor Dacre Montgomery.
Montgomery submitted an audition tape after being informed by his manager that Stranger Things was casting two regulars. In the tape, which was made in the style of a short film, Montgomery danced to ‘80s music wearing only a g-string, leather jacket, and "crazy glasses." He was offered the role of Billy after a Skype call with the Duffer Brothers.
- On October 25, 2017, streaming music service Spotify created playlists based on main characters, coinciding with the premiere of Season 2. Billy's playlist is Billy's Pedal to the Metal, described as "80s hair metal and aggro rock paired best with after-school beatdowns, road rage, and mullets."
- Another possible inspiration for Billy is Ace Merrill from Stand By Me because of his treatment towards Lucas and Max.
- In E Pluribus Unum and The Battle of Starcourt, a younger version of Billy is portrayed by Christopher Convery when Eleven views his past memories in The Void.
- Billy's car has a Californian license plate that says "PCE 235."
- Billy is the second antagonist to be redeemed; as he died protecting the Party.
- Billy is the second teenager to die in Stranger Things; the first being Barbara Holland.
- During an interview, Dacre Montgomery stated that he "couldn't talk about" Billy possibly returning in Season 4. This has led fans to believe that Billy may be the "American" mentioned in the end of Season 3, or that he will otherwise return despite having been killed by the Mind Flayer.
- Billy is the only character in Stranger Things who so far has not been killed in the season they were introduced in. He was first introduced in Season 2, and then killed in Season 3.
- Billy was inspired by Billy Hicks, Rob Lowe's character in the 1985 romance drama St. Elmo's Fire.
- Billy looks almost exactly like Rob Lowe as Billy Hicks.
|For this subject's gallery, see Billy Hargrove/Gallery.|
- "The Gate"
- "Meet Stranger Things Season 2 Villain, Billy" TV Guide. June 10, 2017.
- "Stranger Things season 2: Who's in danger? Who's new? The plot revealed!" Entertainment Weekly. February 10, 2017.
- "Meet New 'Stranger Things' Star Dacre Montgomery | IMDb EXCLUSIVE" IMDb on YouTube. July 22, 2017.
- "'Stranger Things': Meet the 3 New Characters Joining Season 2" The Hollywood Reporter. September 1, 2016.
- "Stranger Things adds new cast members for season 2" Entertainment Weekly. October 14, 2016.
- "'Power Rangers': Dacre Montgomery on "Potential" Sequel and His Naked Audition for 'Stranger Things'" The Hollywood Reporter. March 22, 2017.