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You always say we should never stop being curious, to always open any curiosity door we find."
"Dustin..."
"Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked?

–Dustin Henderson and Scott Clarke, November 12, 1983


Dustin Henderson, portrayed by Gaten Matarazzo, is a major protagonist in the first three seasons of Stranger Things. He is best friends with Mike Wheeler, Lucas Sinclair , Eleven, Will Byers, and Max Mayfield.

In Season 1, in 1983, when Dustin's friend, Will went missing, Dustin and the rest of his friends, Mike and Lucas went out to look for him, only to find a mysterious girl named Eleven who had telekinetic powers. Dustin had a neutral opinion of Eleven as she helped them look for Will, but he became good friends with her after she saved him and Mike from being killed by their school bullies. Dustin would continue to help his friends find Will and fight against a Demogorgon until it was killed by Eleven. In the end, Dustin and his friends were reunited with Will where they celebrated Christmas together.

In 1984, Dustin played a major role in the plot by discovering and raising D'Artagnan, which he later discovered to be a juvenile demogorgon. He turned to Steve to deal with D'Artagnan, and later joined forces with the rest of the gang to save Will and all of Hawkins. He, along with Steve and his friends, assisted in burning the expanding network of the Mind Flayer, providing a distraction while Eleven closed the Gate for good. A month later, Dustin attends his school's Snow Ball in the hopes of impressing Max Mayfield, but is disappointed when she and Lucas become a couple. However, he dances with Mike's older sister, Nancy, saying he'll one day win a girl's heart.

In the summer of 1985, Dustin went to Camp Know Where and met a girl named Suzie, who became his girlfriend. Despite being welcomed back home by his friends, Dustin felt left out by them. When Dustin intercepted a secret Russian transmission on his Cerebro, he requested Steve, along with Steve's co-worker Robin Buckley and Lucas's younger sister Erica to help him with the message, leading them to discover the Russians were in Hawkins working on opening another Gate underneath Starcourt Mall. After escaping the Russian base, Dustin reunited and reconciled with his friends and helped them defeat the Mind Flayer once again, by getting the number to Planck's constant from Suzie to Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper so they could close the gate. Three months later, Dustin says good-bye to Will and Eleven as they move out of Hawkins before he and Lucas give their Dungeons & Dragons set to Erica.

History

Main article: Dustin Henderson/History

Personality and Traits

Dustin is an observer and a protector of the unity within the friend group. He frequently resolved the conflicts within the group by drawing their attention to what was going on around them. He had a neutral, level-headed approach to Eleven and the supernatural events unfolding around them; in some ways, he was a negotiator between the open-minded Mike and the skeptical Lucas.

Dustin is also the most scientifically inclined of the group (despite his love of fantasy) and may be the most intelligent of the quartet- notwithstanding his bad judgement in keeping Dart as a pet, although even this unexpectedly saved the group in the end.

Dustin is also shown to be well-behaved around girls, trying to flirt with them. When he developed a brief crush on Max Mayfield, he did any means to impress her such as inviting her to go trick-or-treating or showing Dart to her though his attempts went a little too far. After being advice from Steve and Nancy on how to approach girls, Dustin managed to get the attention of Suzie whom he met at Camp Know Where. As he dated Suzie, he would affectionately call "Suzie-Poo," sing Neverending Story to her, and describe her as the perfect girl (though Dustin's descriptions of her made others doubt her existence).

Relationships

Familial

Dustin and his mother shared a close bond with each other. The two always cared for each other deeply and would exchange friendly conversations. Despite having a strong trust, he had to occasionally lie to his mother, particularly regarding the situation about Dart and the subsequent death of their pet Mews. But since those events occurred in her mother's unawareness, she often thought he was telling the truth.

Non-Familial

Dustin met Mike along with Lucas and Will in the fourth grade, long after the three had initially met. Due to this, Dustin doubted whether he was on the same level of friendship with Mike that Will and Lucas were. However, Mike very much considered Dustin to be his best friend too, along with Will and Lucas. Dustin was level-headed with Mike, being supportive of him and Eleven while also willing to call him out for any questionable behavior. When Dustin was held at knifepoint by Troy Walsh and Mike was forced to jump off Sattler Quarry, Dustin tried to urge Mike to stop, not wanting him to die before they were saved by Eleven.

In 1984, when Dustin, along with Lucas, invited Max Mayfield into the Party without informing Mike first, Mike was upset, but showed no hostility towards Dustin. While they had an argument over the situation regarding Dart, their friendship never turned bad as he directly headed to Mike's house to warn him about its danger and also searched for him with the group during the Demodogs' invasion. Dustin also supported Mike's plan to distract the Demodogs from El and Hopper by burning the tunnels of the Upside Down, proving that they still endanger themselves to protect their friends. A month later, at the Snow Ball, Dustin still remained on good terms with Mike, who playfully teased his hairstyle.

Dustin met Lucas in the fourth grade. The two generally got on well. They were sometimes unified in their doubt or disbelief when confronted with strange events and possibilities. When both Dustin and Lucas developed crushes on Max Mayfield, they started competing for her affections. They both decided to invite Max into their Party with Dustin convincing Lucas to do it without Mike. Their friendship started to grow colder when Dustin learned that Lucas told Max the events in 1983, despite agreeing to not tell her. When Lucas discovered that Dustin lied to him and the group about Dart and kept him, Lucas was angry with Dustin as the two got into an agreement. However, they eventually made up and remained friends. When Lucas won Max's affections, Dustin showed no hostility towards Lucas.

n 1985, Dustin was welcomed back from Camp Know Where, but sprayed Lucas's eyes with hairspray in a moment of fright. When Lucas found out Dustin had a girlfriend, he was shocked, but did not believe in her existence. Dustin was hurt by Lucas's doubts about Suzie and the fact he left when Dustin tried to get in touch with Suzie. After Lucas and the rest of the Party came to rescue Dustin at Starcourt Mall, Dustin reconciled with Lucas as they and the rest of their friends shared a group hug. Later, Dustin was able to confirm his girlfriend, Suzie's existence to Lucas during the final battle, as Lucas awkwardly listened to Dustin and Suzie singing Neverending Story. However, three months later, Lucas, along with Max, would make fun of Dustin by singing the song much to Dustin's annoyance.

Dustin met Will and his friends when he joined their school in the fourth grade, quickly becoming close friends. Dustin was determined to stay cool and collected while searching for the missing Will as he realized that he needed to be level-headed​ if he wanted any chance of saving his friend. Dustin wanted the group of kids to stick together no matter what, as he knew that together, they would make the most progress. After Will's rescue from the Upside Down, Dustin told Will everything he missed while he was gone such as Jennifer Hayes crying at his fake funeral.

In 1984, after Will's rescue from the Upside Down, Dustin's concern for Will, along with everyone else's, annoyed Will. When Will realizes the sounds Dustin's new pet, D'Artagnan makes was similar to the noises he heard in Upside Down, he tells Dustin this and his visions, which slightly upsets Dustin for not being told earlier. After Will was possessed by the Mind Flayer, he was saved when Dustin and the rest of his friends burn the underground tunnel system. A month later, at the Snow Ball, Will laughs at Dustin's hairstyle.

A year later, in 1985, Dustin was welcomed back by Will from Camp Know Where where he surprised Will and all of his friends that he gained a girlfriend named Suzie. However, Will did not believe in her existence, but did not tell Dustin, not wanting to hurt his feelings. Will offered Dustin to come by and play D&D, but Dustin did not seem all that interested. Even though Dustin was welcomed back by his friends, he felt that he was being ditched by them, including Will. However, Will came to Dustin's rescue at Starcourt Mall from the Russians and told him that he, Mike, and Lucas could have needed him in dealing with the Flayed; reconciling with Dustin as they shared a group hug. Dustin was even able to prove Suzie's existence to Will and their friends during the battle against the Mind Flayer. Three months later, after the Mind Flayer's defeat, Will said goodbye to Dustin before he and his family moved out of Hawkins.

Dustin's initial attitude to Eleven lay somewhere between Mike's open-mindedness and Lucas's skepticism. He became considerably kinder to her after discovering she had “superpowers”, although he retained a degree of indifference towards her. After the incident with Lucas, he was quick to call her out on a questionable use of her power, though he later admitted that it was “awesome”. While it's unclear if he saw her as a member of the Party at that point, he did assist Mike in looking for Eleven after she had ran away.

After Eleven saved him and Mike from bullies, he proudly declared that she was their friend and thoroughly cared about her from that point on. Following her apparent death, Dustin revealed that they reminisced about her and talked about her almost everyday when she was finally found alive and reunited with them.

In 1984, Dustin and Steve form an unlikely bond while trying to hunt down D'Artagnan. Dustin tells Steve about his attempts to win the heart of Max, where Steve gives advice on how to approach women, and how to style his hair. When everybody else failed, Dustin was the one who convinced Steve to put aside his responsibility of protecting the group and instead assisting them in burning the tunnels infected by the Upside Down. Steve later drives Dustin to the Snow Ball Dance, and gives him a pep talk before Dustin enters the dance.

A year later, Dustin and Steve are still shown to remain friends when they greet each other at Scoops Ahoy after Dustin returns from Camp Know Where. Dustin tells Steve about his new girlfriend, Suzie, and asks for his help with translating a Russian broadcast he picked up when trying to contact Suzie, which Steve accepts. When Robin hears of the message and translate it for them, Dustin and Steve work together, along with Robin, to find Russians and what the back room of the mall. After getting into the room with Erica Sinclair's help, Dustin stays by Steve's side as Steve opens a box of unknown chemicals, not wanting him to die, showing Dustin does care for Steve. When they are spotted by the Russians, Steve, along with Robin, help Dustin and Erica escape before Dustin tells him that he'll come back for him. Eventually, Dustin comes to Steve and Robin's rescue and helps them escape the Russian base, while looking out and protecting them as they were drugged with truth serum. After Steve and Robin were cured, Steve reveals to Dustin that he told the Russians his name while being drugged, much to Dustin's shock, as Steve apologized. When Dustin revealed Suzie's existence by contacting her on Cerebro, Steve was shocked as he secretly did not believe that she existed.

As his friend's older sister, Nancy only has occasional interactions with Dustin. The first exchange we see them having is when Dustin offers Nancy a slice of pizza while she is on the phone, only for her to slam the door in his face. Dustin claims that Nancy 'used to be cool.'

On December 15, 1984, at the Snow Ball, after seeing Dustin being rejected and ridiculed by girls, Nancy takes pity on him and brings him to dance with her, attracting the attention of the girls who rejected him. Nancy tells Dustin that he is her favorite out of all of her brother's friends. She also tells him that girls at his age are 'dumb', but he'll 'drive them nuts' in a few years. They share a touching moment together, having a friendly slow dance.

In 1984, Dustin shared a bond with Dart, keeping him as a pet in a terrarium and feeding him nougat, but when he discovered the half-adult Dart eating his cat, he traps Dart in the basement to be killed, however he escapes, which ultimately leads to Dustin teaming up with Steve to find and kill him. Ironically, Dustin keeping Dart makes (Dustin's) friendship with Lucas Sinclair weak, but later on, this proved to bring the two boys back together as friends. In the season finale of Season 2 ("The Gate"), Dart seemed to forgive Dustin about the basement incident and accepted his nougat which let Steve, Dustin, Max, Lucas, and Mike escape their final encounter with the creature.

In 1984, Dustin's high score on Dig Dug at the Palace Arcade was beaten by a player called "MadMax." When a new student named Maxine "Max" Mayfield was introduced by Mr. Clarke, Dustin, along with Lucas got curious whether she could be "MadMax." When they confirmed their suspicions by watching her play at the Palace Arcade, both Dustin and Lucas formed crushes on her and started to compete for her affections. They invited Max to go trick-or-treating with them, but Max seemingly turned them which Dustin naively wondered if she said yes. However, when she appeared to them in costume on Halloween night, Dustin got excited and spent the night with her and Lucas. When Dustin discovered and befriended D'Artagnan, he decided to show him to Max in order to impress her, but she was disgusted by him. When the Party started keeping secrets about the Upside Down and the true circumstances of Will's disappearance, Dustin continued to keep the secrets as well, despite wanting to tell Max. When Dustin found out that Lucas told her, he got upset with him and was even more upset when he saw Lucas holding Max's hand as Steve Harrington protected them from a Demodog. A month later, at the Snow Ball, Dustin took Steve's advice to style his hair in order to impress Max. However, when Lucas asked Max to dance and she accepted, Dustin became heartbroken as he realized that Max preferred Lucas over him.

A year later, in 1985, Dustin seemed to get over Max as he fell in love with another girl named Suzie during his time at Camp Knowhere. However, Dustin continued to remain friends with Max.

Suzie is Dustin Henderson's first girlfriend. The two share an interest in science, mechanics, comic books, and fantasy. Though many of Dustin's friends believe Suzie is made up, it is revealed that she is real and very much enamored with Dustin. In fact, the two share pet names for each other ("Suzie Poo" and "Dusty Bun") and even have a song they like to perform together ("Neverending Story.")

Dustin first met Robin Buckley at Scoops Ahoy, looking for Steve. Dustin thought she was cool from the moment he first meets her. When Robin overheard Dustin revealing to Steve that he intercepted a secret Russian transmission, Robin offered to help translate, revealing her fluency in several different languages, which Dustin accepts. As they worked together in deciphering the Russian code and discovering the Russians were in Hawkins, Dustin would form a friendship with Robin. After Robin and Steve were captured by the Russians when infiltrating their underground base, Dustin came to Robin's rescue by killing Dr. Zharkov. He protected and cared for Robin after she and Steve were drugged with truth serum until they were cured. The two later continued working together in stopping the Mind Flayer with Robin promising to stay in touch with him. When Dustin confirmed his girlfriend's existence, Robin was shocked and amazed at this.

Dustin did not seem to have a good relationship with Lucas's little sister, Erica, despite being social with her. When Dustin tried to get in touch with Lucas to inform him about D'Artagnan, Erica did not bother to help Dustin and turned off Lucas's Supercom.

However, in 1985, they soon formed a friendship when Dustin requested Erica's help in discovering a secret Russian base underneath Starcourt Mall. Erica did not bother believing Dustin about the Upside Down and its monsters, despite not believing her brother to have witnessed all of it. When Dustin found out Erica was a nerd, Dustin would playfully call her a nerd, much to her annoyance as he slowly convinced her to accept it. The two worked together in rescuing Steve and Robin from the Russians and then protecting and caring for them after they were drugged with truth serum. Erica did not believe the existence of Dustin's girlfriend, Suzie until he confirmed her existence by contacting on Cerebro. As Dustin and Suzie sang Neverending Story, Erica was shocked and out of annoyance, ended their transmission after Suzie gave out Planck's constant and the two started expressing their love for each other. Three months later, Dustin is shown to still be on friendlier terms with Erica as he gave her the Party's D&D sets.

Appearances

Season One appearances
The Vanishing of Will Byers The Weirdo on Maple Street Holly, Jolly The Body
The Flea and the Acrobat The Monster The Bathtub The Upside Down
Season Two appearances
MADMAX Trick or Treat, Freak The Pollywog
Will the Wise Dig Dug The Spy
The Lost Sister* The Mind Flayer The Gate

*Dustin appears in archive footage in The Lost Sister

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

Comics

Volume 1 appearances
Issue 1* Issue 2* Issue 3* Issue 4

*Can be seen in flashbacks

Family tree

 
 
 
 
Unseen and Unnamed Character Family Tree icon
Mr. Henderson
 
Claudia Henderson Family tree icon 001
Claudia Henderson
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dustin Henderson Family Tree icon 001
Dustin Henderson
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Memorable Quotes

Dustin:

  • "Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit."
  • "Do you eat kangaroos for breakfast?"
  • "She tried to get naked!"
  • "Oh my God, what if she slept naked?"
  • "Man! These aren't real nilla wafers."
  • "No, no no! I hate this overpriced bullshit!"
  • "Mental."
  • "Lando Calrissian."
  • (Referring to Dart) "Yes. He had the same exact yellow pattern on his butt."
  • "Holy, mother of God!"
  • (Finding his hairspray) "Son of a bitch! Son of a bitch!"

Dustin to Dart:

  • "I'm sorry, but you ate my cat."

Dustin to Steve:

  • "Abort, abort!"

Dustin to Troy & James:

  • "You better run! She's our friend and she's crazy!"

Dustin to Mr. Clarke:

  • "Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked?"

Dustin to Troy:

  • "Our friend has superpowers, and she squeezed your tiny bladder with her mind!"

Dustin to Mike:

  • "I don't need my baby teeth, Mike!"
  • "Mike! I found the chocolate pudding!"
  • "Lando!"

Dustin to Ted Wheeler:

  • "Son of a bitch. You're really no help at all, you know that?"

Dustin to Lucas:

  • "Sometimes, your total obliviousness blows my mind."
  • "She won't be able to resist these pearls... grrr."

Dustin to Mike, Will & Lucas:

  • "Guys? Guys? Why is nobody else wearing a costume?"
  • "It's a conspiracy, I'm telling you."
  • "Abort."

Dustin to Keith:

  • "Oh, so I'm the wastoid?"

Dustin to Will:

  • "Son of a bitch!"

Behind the Scenes

Character development

According to the original script, Dustin's character was conceived as an overweight boy with glasses who was the victim of frequent bullying at school. But most of the traits of the character were rewritten by the Duffer Brothers after it was decided Gaten Matarazzo was to be portraying the character. In the process, Dustin evolved into a buoyant nerdy character who'd resolve internal conflicts among his friends. Gaten's medical condition, cleidocranial dysplasia was also written into the character.[1]

Casting

Gaten was the first among the four boys to be cast in Stranger Things.Initially, he was considered for the role of Lucas during his first screen test in mid-2015 with Finn. However, after Caleb was also cast, it was decided the role of Dustin would be more suitable for Gaten. Regarding the decision, casting director Carmen Cuba said, "He was so perfectly able to capture the spirit of Dustin and also was so connected to his own unique self with such tenderness and humor that it was a big casting moment for us."[1]

Trivia

  • Dustin did not grow in adult teeth until approximately age thirteen because he has cleidocranial dysplasia, a genetic disorder involving delayed bone growth.
  • During the first season, Dustin's Dungeons & Dragons character race was revealed to be a Dwarf.[2] In the second season, his character class was revealed to be a Bard.
  • Dustin's home first appeared on-screen in season two.
  • In the original pilot script, Benny Hammond is at a couple of points referred to as "Benny Henderson", which could suggest that Benny and Dustin were originally planned to be part of the same family.
  • Dustin is the only member of the AV club that does not have any siblings.
  • Out of all the younger characters, Dustin curses the most.
  • He owns a set of hockey gears, though whether he plays the game is not known.
  • He often gets constipated, as confirmed by his mother.
  • According to the Montauk pilot script, Dustin was originally described to wear oversized glasses.
  • In Season 3, Dustin became the second member of the Party to kill an enemy, after Eleven who had made several kills in the past two seasons.
  • In Season 3, Dustin gets a new hat from Camp Know Where while his old hat from the previous seasons is seen in the bedroom of his girlfriend, Suzie; meaning Dustin probably gave her his old hat as a way to remember him.
  • In the Hawkins Middle School Yearbook, he was shown to be voted as the "Most Curious". It is stated that his career goal is to be a cryptozoologist. His favorite subject is Science. His hobbies are discovering new species, re-creating movie props at home, and D&D. When he is not studying he's trying to get back his high score on Dig Dug. The extracurricular activities he had were the AV Club and the Science Fair.

Gallery

View Gallery For this subject's gallery, see Dustin Henderson/Gallery.


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down
  2. "Behind The Scenes Of Stranger Things - Lully Of Truth 293"
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